Author's Note:
Good grief. Has it really been a month and a half? Geez. I am SO incredibly sorry. I've written and re-written and re-written this chapter at least a half dozen times, and it actually turned out to be more than twice as long as I originally anticipated. Hopefully what happens in this will make up for the delay. Read on; you'll see what I mean.

Reminder:
Edward & Jacob were born in 1900, Bella in 1902. Edward came to live with the Swans in 1906 after a fire destroyed his home and left him horribly scarred when he unsuccessfully tried to save his father's life. Edward & Bella revealed their love to each other and shared their first kiss on Christmas Eve, 1917. It is now the fall of 1918, and Bella just revealed their secret to Jacob.

Disclaimer:
I don't own Twilight or The Count of Monte Cristo, but I love the Monte Cristo sandwich in the Blue Bayou at Disneyland. :)


EPOV

I raced down the bustling streets of downtown Chicago as fast as my legs could possibly carry me, for once not caring that passersby gasped at my appearance or pointed their fingers and whispered disparaging words that would ordinarily cause me nothing but shame and humiliation.

This day, no amount of gawking or name calling would be able to diminish the joy and anticipation that coursed through me as I ran home to Bella to share with her the second most exhilarating news I had ever received in all of my eighteen years; the first being that she loved me.

As the sun made its descent through the cloudy sky, I tore up the drive to the Swan residence, bypassing the house and flying through the grounds as I made my way out to our meadow, where I knew she would be waiting. My legs ached, and my lungs burned from my exertion, but the no doubt silly grin on my face grew impossibly wider as I caught sight of her mahogany hair blowing softly in the cool, fall breeze.

As I neared the fringe of ferns, my pace slowed, and my smile faltered slightly when I realized that she was not alone in the wild, green grass. Jacob Black had come for yet another visit, and I tried to not let his presence quench my happiness, though it pained me greatly to see the two of them sitting beside one another.

Jacob's presence was simply a reminder of all the things that I could never be for Bella. Certainly, she would never be afforded the opportunity to be seen publically with me, at least not without my repulsiveness causing a dreadful commotion. Although I rejoiced greatly in her love for me, I never ceased to worry what it would mean for her future. Would she be cruelly condemned and shunned by society because of my disfigurement?

And no matter how much money I earned, it would never even come close to equaling what Jacob had already without lifting a finger. He could furnish her with all of the fine luxuries she so richly deserved, whereas I could only hope and pray that I would be able to provide her with the very basic of necessities.

I swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat and reminded myself that Bella professed her undying affection for me on a daily basis in spite of my monstrous countenance and lack of wealth.

However, all of the reminding in the world was no match for the despair that flooded my heart at seeing him relaxing casually beside her. He sat far too close to her for my liking, and it almost appeared as if his gaze was transfixed upon the delicate stretch of exposed skin below her collar. He looked... like a ravenous wolf... ready to devour a helpless lamb.

I mentally rebuked the thought. Jacob was likely only admiring the locket he had given her for her birthday just two weeks prior. He was a gentleman after all.

He had been a most trusted friend for years, however, I couldn't help but feel apprehensive about Jacob as of late. His words to the both of us were nothing short of politeness and decency; nevertheless, I had begun to notice that while he said one thing with his mouth, it appeared as if his eyes held a much different story.

But the very notion that he would lie to either Bella or myself was positively absurd. What reason would he have for telling either of us anything except the absolute truth? I silently chastised myself for allowing my wretched jealousy to get the better of me. What a horrible friend I was for even entertaining such suspicions about him!

I froze in my step, halfway hidden behind an enormous oak tree, and watched as Jacob reached over and casually twirled a stray lock of Bella's hair between his fingers. He brought the strands up to his nose and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes in delight, a lazy grin dancing upon his lips as Bella sat beside him and perused the tattered book in her hands, oblivious to his actions.

My chest constricted at the very sight as my jealousy returned in full force along with a peculiar wave of something I had never felt before. I was suddenly overcome with the desire to hurt my best friend. Good heavens! What was wrong with me?

I drew in a deep breath in an effort to calm my raging thoughts and forced myself to remember that I had news that would change everything. Soon, much sooner than we had originally anticipated, Bella would officially be mine, and we would not have to keep our relationship a secret any longer.

She slowly lifted her head, and her face lit up with a glorious smile as her chocolate eyes met mine.

"Edward!" she exclaimed with all of the happiness in the world as she jumped to her feet and raced toward me.

She launched herself into my embrace, and I held onto her tightly, clutching her small body to mine securely as I sighed inwardly at the feel of her in my arms again.

"I missed you," I whispered breathlessly in her ear, low enough so that only she could hear, grinning widely like a madman.

Her hands cupped my cheeks, and she pressed her forehead to mine. "I missed you as well," she murmured. "So very much."

She tilted her face, and before I realized her intentions, her lips brushed softly against mine.

Her warm touch ignited that seemingly ever-present desire I had for her, and without thinking, I returned the gesture, moving my mouth tenderly over hers.

The sound of a throat clearing caused my body to go utterly rigid as panic rose within me. I held my breath as my eyes flashed over to Jacob, who had stood to his feet and was looking on at our rather intimate display in a mixture of both shock and disgust.

How could I have been so careless?

I snapped my head back aghast. "Bella," I whispered frantically in an attempt to gain her attention since she had yet to realize the gravity of the situation. "Jacob..." I nodded discreetly in his direction.

Instead of pulling away from me in alarm at being discovered, she merely sighed and ran her fingers lovingly over my scarred cheek, bringing her lips to mine once more.

"It's all right, Edward," she hummed against my mouth. "Jacob knows."

My jaw fell open, and I took a step back, flickering my gaze back and forth between them both. "He... what?"

She smiled in reassurance and slid her arms down to wrap them around my waist, holding me tightly in her grasp. "It's okay, sweetheart. He knows all about us, and he's fine with it."

I glanced nervously in Jacob's direction and watched as he smiled and nodded once, never so much as uttering a single syllable, although it almost appeared as if his grin was forced.

Bella took one of my hands in hers and linked her fingers with mine. "He's even agreed to help us."

"Help? Help how... exactly?" I asked anxiously.

"He has promised to speak with his father about finding you a job at his pharmaceutical company."

Bewildered, I glanced at him as my brow knit together in confusion. "Really?"

Jacob gave a curt nod in affirmation then looked away.

I wasn't sure what to make of it all. From the conversations I'd overheard in town between William Black and Chief Swan, Jacob and his father had been at odds the past several months. Ever since Jacob had refused a position working at the pharmaceutical company, his father had threatened to cut off his allowance and withhold his inheritance if he didn't go and secure some form of employment and "learn the value of money." Mr. Black insisted that the two of them argued constantly over the amount of money Jacob had managed to squander thus far. I couldn't fathom the reason he would willingly speak to his father on my behalf, especially if their relationship truly was strained.

"Perhaps he can help," Bella offered with a light shrug, bringing me out of my reverie.

I looked down upon her beautiful face and couldn't help but smile, determined not to let Jacob's knowledge of our relationship spoil the information I had brought with me. Everyone would know soon enough as it was, I supposed.

"Love, I have the most wonderful news," I announced, my voice slightly shaky with nervousness as I raised our joined hands to my mouth, pressing my lips firmly against her smooth knuckles. "I was running an errand for your father in town today down at Orchestra Hall, when I met Frederick Stock."

She tilted her head, curiosity gleaming in her brown eyes. "Who's he?"

"He's the principal conductor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra," I answered, feeling excitement building within my chest.

"And?" she asked, worrying her lower lip in apprehension.

I inhaled a deep breath in a vain effort to calm my racing heart. "He heard me play, Bella... I played for Frederick Stock. The Frederick Stock!"

Her eyes grew wide, and a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "And?"

I couldn't stop the elated grin from exploding onto my face. "And he's offered me a position!"

"What? Oh, Edward! I knew you could do it!" she exclaimed joyously, throwing her arms around my neck once more. "I knew it!"

I picked her up by the waist and spun her around in circles as we both freely laughed at our unexpected good fortune. Finally, I would be able to support her, not as comfortably as someone of means such as Jacob, but at least I could provide for her needs.

"I'm going to play for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra," I whispered, more to myself than her, still not quite yet believing that my meeting with the renowned conductor had taken place.

I had merely been delivering a letter to Orchestra Hall on behalf of Chief Swan, when I was distracted by the exquisite piano inside. At the sound of a throat clearing, I was certain I was going to be reprimanded for standing there stupidly or ridiculed for my appearance. However, I had practically been beside myself when Mr. Stock had, instead, asked me if I played. And after I'd played for him and we'd talked, he offered me the position–with a salary that far exceeded my expectation. I sat there speechless for over half a minute, thinking I had died and gone to heaven.

"Oh, Edward, I am so happy for you," Bella said with tears trickling down her cheeks. "We don't have to wait years now, do we?" she asked, hope shining in her eyes.

I shook my head happily, my own eyes brimming with unshed tears, and lowered my face to capture her lips again.

Suddenly remembering that we were not alone, I quickly released her and turned to Jacob.

"Sorry," I muttered apologetically.

"Isn't it wonderful, Jacob?" Bella asked, clasping my hand in hers. "The Chicago Symphony Orchestra!"

Jacob gave a tight smile in response then turned his eyes toward me. His intense gaze seemed to cloud with sadness, disappointment, and even anger. However, as quickly as the emotions had appeared, they were gone.

"Well, isn't it lovely how things always work out for you, Edward," he said, his jaw tense.

I glanced between him and Bella in concern. "Are we... are you all right with all of this, Jacob?"

He inhaled deeply, and his face relaxed considerably, though I noticed that his hands were still peculiarly in tight fists. "You are indeed blessed, my friend. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."

Without another word, he abruptly turned toward his home and began walking away.

"Jacob?" I frowned and started to go after him.

Bella grabbed hold of my arm and stopped me. "Don't worry about him."

"But–"

"He'll be all right. I will admit, he was a little upset at first when I told him of us, but we talked, and I explained to him how much you mean to me, Edward; how much you've always meant to me. Eventually, he said that he understood and would do anything he could to help."

I opened my mouth to speak, however, she began peppering my face with dozens of kisses, effectively silencing me for the moment.

"Oh, Edward," she murmured dreamily between kisses. "Is this really happening?"

"Yes," I answered with a grin.

All thoughts of Jacob dissolved the moment Bella's silky tongue swept across my lips. Her hands took up their usual residence in my hair as our kiss deepened, the both of us moaning softly.

I pulled her in closer to my body, one arm around her waist, the other behind her neck. As our tongues continued their sensual embrace, she slid her palms down, roaming my torso.

Ever so slowly, she untucked my shirt from the waistband of my trousers then glided her fingers across the skin of my back, earning a shiver from me.

I backed her up against the old oak tree and pressed my body against hers as I lowered my lips to her jaw and down her neck. She moaned lowly, moving her pelvis against mine in response, and I groaned as my lower region began straining at the front of my trousers.

"Isabella!"

We both gasped and quickly separated, looking at each other with wide eyes and gaping mouths, momentarily stunned. A small giggle escaped Bella's lips, and I hurriedly tucked my shirt back in, while she straightened her dress and smoothed out her hair.

Mrs. Swan appeared mere seconds later, cringing the moment she caught sight of me. "Don't you have work to do, boy?" she sneered, appraising my appearance with a scowl. "After all, we don't allow you to live here because of your good looks," she added with a laugh.

Bella's eyes flashed with anger, and I immediately captured her gaze and shook my head minutely. "Don't," I mouthed, pleading with her to simply let it go.

She sighed deeply and pursed her lips, glaring at her mother but, thankfully, said nothing.

"Of course, Mrs. Swan. Forgive me for taking up so much of Bella's time," I apologized as sincerely as possible.

She huffed. "How many times must I remind you that her name is Isabella? You would do well to remember that, boy."

"Again, forgive me." I bowed my head slightly, winking at Bella as soon as Renee's back was turned.

Her cheeks flushed an even darker shade of rose, and she smiled shyly before reluctantly following her mother.

"Good heavens, child! You look positively dreadful. Are you feeling well? You look as if you have a fever. I hope you haven't contracted that ghastly influenza," Mrs. Swan droned on as they marched toward the house together.

I walked several paces behind, smiling as Bella adorably stumbled several times along the way.

"Isabella, I have been calling you to dinner for the past five minutes. Why didn't you come? And what were you doing out here with that... that boy again? And where in the world is Jacob? I thought he was..."

Her nasally voice faded as I headed toward the opposite end of the house to finish my daily chores, though it was immensely difficult to concentrate throughout the rest of the evening with my mind constantly wandering back to the fact that I was, finally, suitably employed. I felt like a real man for the first time in my life.

Later that night, after everyone had gone to sleep, I sat on the edge of my bed with Bella on my lap, our arms wrapped around each other.

"When will you start?" she asked.

"At the end of next week." I sighed happily. "We don't have to wait years to get married, Bella," I whispered as I held her tightly to my chest. "Now that I have a job–a real job–as soon as I can afford the ring and a proper wedding–"

"I don't need a ring," she declared, pulling away, letting me see the happiness shining in her beautiful, brown eyes.

I opened my mouth to protest, but she quickly silenced me with a finger to my lips. She turned her head and quickly surveyed my small room, her mouth lifting up at the corners as her gaze landed upon my mother's old handkerchief, or rather, the spot of blue peeking out from between the edges of the folded cloth. I smiled in remembrance of the faded blue ribbon that Bella used to wear in her hair when she was but a young girl. I had kept it all these years since it reminded me of the day we had met.

She stood and carefully slid the ribbon out then proceeded to wrap it around the third finger of her left hand. "This will be my ring, Edward, and no matter what happens, you will never see it off my finger. Ever."

"But, Bella–"

"I don't need a metal band on my finger to bind myself to you... Edward, I have been yours for as long as I can remember."

Tears of joy stung my eyes as I pulled my fiancé back to me and pressed my lips fiercely against hers, rejoicing inwardly that this wonderful, phenomenal woman wanted me of all of people.

We broke apart after several moments, and while I trailed kisses along her jaw and down her neck, Bella moaned softly then continued, "And besides, who needs a wedding anyway..."

My lips froze against her throat, and I slowly lifted my head to look into her eyes, trying desperately to keep from panicking. "Sweetheart, what are you saying? Do you not wish to marry me after all?"

"Oh, Edward, of course I do!" she hurriedly reassured.

I breathed a quick sigh of relief and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear and waited for her to continue.

She bit her lip in apprehension as her cheeks flushed that lovely shade of pink I so adored. "Did you know that up until the middle of the sixteenth century, the only thing needed to create a marriage was for both partners to state their consent to take one another as their spouse?"

My eyes widened at her words, and her cheeks darkened even further. "Really?" I asked, my voice nothing more than a whisper.

She nodded but averted her eyes nervously. "So, when you think about it, what we call proper weddings have only been in practice for less than four hundred years. And since when have I ever been proper?"

Her words stunned me to silence, and my mouth seemed unwilling to form a response.

Was she suggesting that we...

Could it be possible for us to...

She fingered the locket around her neck, and I smiled–despite the fact that Jacob had been the giver of the necklace–knowing that it held two tiny photos inside; one of Bella, and one of myself.

"I'm certain we could sell this, and the money, plus what we've saved so far, would surely be enough to pay for a small apartment in town for at least a month. By then you'll be working, and your salary can cover our expenses."

My heart pounded against my ribs at her suggestion. "Bella, your family–"

"I'll miss my father, but I can still see him in town. And you know as well as I do that it wouldn't bother me in the slightest if I never saw that horrid woman who calls herself my mother again. In fact, that's precisely what I'm hoping for."

I abruptly stood to my feet and began pacing the floor, running my hands through my hair. It wasn't fair of me to ask her to leave everything behind just to be with me, however, the desire to do just that was strong. So very strong.

"We could leave tomorrow, Edward," she continued. "We could start our lives together as man and wife... finally. Just think of it! A home of our own."

I froze in my steps and faced the wall, feeling as if my heart were about to beat right out of my chest. Although we had talked endlessly of marriage and our future together, I never dreamed that it would be possible for it all to occur so soon.

Fear and uncertainty washed through me in that instant along with a litany of unanswered questions. What would her father think if we left so suddenly? What would people in town say about her without a proper wedding? Would I truly be able to provide for her? Where would we be able to find an apartment we could afford? Would it be safe?

After a few moments of tense silence, I slowly turned back around to gaze at her. As our eyes met, the questions and uncertainties slowly drifted away, and I realized that nothing else mattered.

I was there. She was there. God was there. What more did we need?

I took her small hands and enveloped them in mine, relishing the way the smooth satin ribbon around her finger felt against my skin. I brought them to my chest and clutched them over my heart, the very place that she had captured so long ago, as I slowly knelt before her.

"Bella," I began nervously, not even recognizing my own shaky voice. "I'm afraid that all I have to offer you is me and my undying love for you."

How I wished it were more. She deserved so much more than a tiny apartment. She deserved so much more than a beastly looking husband. However, the look of complete adoration on her face as she gazed at me was enough to quench even the darkest of my fears.

I took a deep breath and swallowed hard, gripping her hands even tighter between mine.

"And I know that's not much, but... will you, Isabella Marie Swan, take me as your husband, to have and to hold... and to never let go?"

Tears began trickling down her cheeks, and I quickly grew concerned, frightened that I had ruined everything. Was this not what she wanted? After a moment, she sighed, and her face broke out into the widest smile I had ever seen before.

"I will, Edward. I will," she proclaimed happily, squeezing my hands. "And will you, Edward Anthony Masen, have me as your wife, to allow me to love you and to cherish you until death do us part?"

Unbridled joy coursed through me, and my mouth turned up on one side into a silly, lopsided grin. "Death won't ever be able to separate us... and yes, I will. Dear God, Bella, of course I will." As if there could ever be any other possible answer.

I brought her left hand up to my mouth and brushed my lips against her ring, silently promising to replace it with a real one just as soon as I could afford to.

"With everything that is within me, Bella, I vow to love you. Forever."

She threw her arms around my neck and buried her face into my chest. "I love you, too, Edward. I vow my love to you and only you... for the rest of my days and more."

We leaned in and pressed our lips firmly together for a few moments before pulling away to gaze into each other's eyes.

She flashed another beautiful smile as her hands tenderly caressed the marred skin of my cheeks. "My husband," she said with a contented sigh.

I grinned back, and I had to suppress the urge to shout my declaration out at the top of my lungs for all the world to hear. Instead, I settled for an elated whisper. "My wife... my amazing, beautiful, wonderful wife."

I tilted her chin and moved my head to hers, kissing her forehead, her nose, and each one of her cheeks. Eventually, our lips found each other once again, and Bella threaded her fingers through my hair, letting out another happy sigh.

Our mouths continued to move together, and I wasn't sure about her, but I felt like I could never get enough. She must have felt the same way because her tongue darted out and licked my bottom lip. I opened my mouth immediately, letting her warm tongue inside so that it could tangle and slide against my own.

She moaned and tightened her grip on my hair, eliciting a groan from me. I wrapped my hands around her waist, and, as the intensity of our kiss grew, I pushed myself up off the floor.

Without breaking contact, I sat myself back down on the bed beside her, cradling her head in my hands. Bella responded by sliding her body over, pulling herself up onto my lap, straddling me. I gasped at the contact, the area between my thighs throbbing almost painfully.

Her head tilted to the side as she panted for air, and I took the opportunity to lower my mouth to her chin, pressing my lips along the smooth line of her jaw, down her neck, and over to the sensitive skin beneath the hollow of her ear.

I sucked on her tender flesh lightly and slid a hand beneath the fabric of her cotton nightgown, caressing her smooth, bare leg with my fingers. She moaned and twisted her fingers even tighter in my hair, pulling the strands hard, drawing another groan from me.

"Make love to me, Edward," she gasped. Or maybe it was I who gasped.

"Bella, we musn't," I said, though I couldn't help but to continue trailing kisses along her delicate collarbone.

"Why not?" she asked breathlessly. "It's our wedding night after all."

Reluctantly, I pulled away from her, cupping her cheeks in my hands, pausing for a few moments before speaking. "Bella... are you sure you want to do this, love?" I asked, studying her eyes carefully. "I, ah... Jacob said that it's supposed to... that it may hurt you the first time."

"I want to be with you, Edward," she whispered without hesitation, stroking my scarred face gently with her fingers. "I want to become one with you."

I inhaled deeply through my nose and let it out slowly.

What if I hurt her? Really hurt her? What if I did it... wrong?

I had barely no knowledge at all about physical intimacy, only what little information Jacob had shared with me on the subject.

"Please?" she whispered, staring at me with those impossibly wide, brown eyes of hers as her thumb brushed against my cheek. "Please, Edward..."

I practically stopped breathing altogether for a few moments as I became lost in her hypnotizing gaze. How could I ever say no to her?

With another deep breath for courage, I recaptured her lips with mine and slid my left arm around her waist, holding her tightly to me. I used the other to push on the mattress, sliding our tangled bodies back further to the middle of the bed. Our mouths continued to move together as our hands explored each other over our respective night clothes.

Were we really going to do this? I silently prayed that it wouldn't be horrible for her.

After several minutes, my fingers found their way to the hem of her nightgown, and I broke away from her lips so that I could look at her, questioning with my eyes. She let out a shaky breath, nodded, then proceeded to assist me in lifting it up and off her body.

All of the breath in my lungs came out in one quick whoosh as I took in the beautiful sight before me. I licked my lips, which felt horribly dry all of a sudden, and swallowed thickly.

Bella's breathing was just as labored as mine as she reached her trembling fingers out and tugged on my nightshirt, pulling it upward. I held my breath as I helped her remove it, tossing it beside hers somewhere on the floor.

We sat there quite awkwardly for a few moments, both of us blushing like mad, looking anywhere and everywhere but at each other. Finally, we took a deep breath in unison and then slowly removed our undergarments.

My mouth fell open as my eyes roamed her body shamelessly. She was positively... exquisite.

She gasped suddenly, bit her lip and averted her eyes.

My breath hitched, and I immediately knew what had caused her abrupt discomfort. With a grimace, I looked down at the scars that marred my upper half. These were even worse than the ones on my face.

I moved my hands to cover my wretchedly disgusting flesh, feeling completely ashamed, and whispered, "I'm sorry."

Instantly, I felt her hands grip mine. "No, Edward! It's not... it's just... you're... you're so..."

Ugly?

Repulsive?

Hideous?

"Naked."

I let out the breath I'd been holding as a relieved chuckle escaped my lips. "So are you, love," I whispered as my eyes once again gazed upon her stunning beauty.

Her cheeks flushed an even deeper shade of red at my shameless ogling.

"I'm sorry," I apologized, not for staring, but rather, for making her feel uncomfortable. "You're just so beautiful, Bella. In all of God's creation, I don't think I've ever seen anything more lovely."

She tucked her chin to her chest and gave a shy smile, sucking her lower lip in between her teeth, then turned her gaze to my body. And even though I desperately wanted to cover myself, knowing how ugly the burn scars were that covered my torso, she silenced my fears with the very look in her awed and loving gaze.

She trailed her fingertips lightly across my chest, causing me to shiver, though it had nothing to do with the cool, fall temperature.

I reached my hand out as well and caressed her bare shoulders, smiling at how smooth her skin felt.

My gaze flickered lower before capturing her eyes with mine, silently asking if it was okay. She took my hand in hers and pressed it against her bare breast in response. My heart practically stopped beating at that moment before taking off faster than the speed of light.

With the utmost care and caution, my thumb began to gently sweep across her tender skin. She gasped quietly and closed her eyes.

"You're so soft, Bella," I murmured in wonder as my hands tenderly moved against her body.

Her lips curved into a smile, and she opened her eyes, meeting my gaze, then returned her hand to my torso, her fingers slowly tracing over each and every scar, line and muscle.

My lips found hers again, and I leaned in closer, pressing her carefully down onto the mattress as we continued our exploration of each other's naked chests. It wasn't long before the desire to have more of her became too much, and I pulled my head back, staring into the depths of her chocolate eyes.

"Bella?" I asked breathlessly. "I... I want to, ah... can I put my mouth..." I trailed off, feeling my cheeks grow warmer than ever before.

She swallowed rather loudly before nodding her head, bringing her hands back to my disheveled hair and gently tugging me back toward her.

After inhaling a deep, shaky breath, I lowered my head to her breast and placed my mouth where my hands had been just moments before. I closed my eyes at the delicious taste of her warm flesh as Bella moaned and arched her back, sliding one of her legs up and around my hip.

I groaned as we both became keenly aware of the position of our bodies, and I could feel a certain part of mine straining desperately toward hers. The sensation of her hot skin pressed so tightly up against me was overwhelming, and I was doing everything within my power to ensure that I didn't lose it before we'd even begun.

As my eyes opened, I took in her beautiful form and sighed, still not quite believing that I could be so lucky as to have the wonderful creature beneath me as my wife. Her lips were parted, and her breathing was heavy as I continued to move both my mouth and hands against her.

She raked her nails across my back, and I groaned as I felt tingles shoot all over my body, concentrating themselves in the area just below my hips. On instinct, I pressed my pelvis against hers, and the friction that action provided caused us both to moan.

"Edward," she whimpered, clutching me even tighter to her, and I worried momentarily that my weight would crush her.

However, in the next instant, our eyes locked, and she gave a slight nod as if to let me know that she was ready. I nodded in return and carefully moved my hips so that they fully lined up with hers.

"Please, let me know if it's too much," I whispered in concern.

She nodded her head again and bit her lip. Slowly, I pushed my lower body into hers, feeling my eyes roll into the back of my head at the unexpected tightness and warmth I encountered.

"Oh, God," I whispered breathlessly.

Suddenly, her eyes squeezed shut, and she let out a quiet sob. Immediately, I froze and exhaled the breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding.

I resisted the powerful urge to move, and instead, drew in steady breaths one after the other in an effort to remain still. "Bella?" I asked through clenched teeth. "Do you... should I stop?"

She shook her head slightly, but a few tears spilled out of her eyes. My heart broke at the very sight. I was hurting my beloved.

"I'm sorry," I murmured, kissing the wetness from her cheeks and wondering what in the world I could do to make this easier or better or just... something for her. Something that didn't involve hurting her. "I'm sorry," I repeated with a heavy sigh.

Several moments later, her eyes were still closed, though her body seemed to have relaxed infinitesimally. I couldn't bear seeing her in pain any longer, so I began to slowly move off of her.

Her arms tightened around me. "No!" she cried, pulling me forcefully to her.

I groaned as we joined again, completely overwhelmed by the pleasurable sensations running over nearly every inch of my body.

Bella gasped loudly, and I snapped my head up, looking fearfully in her eyes. Had I hurt her even worse?

"Oh God, sweetheart. I'm so sorry."

"No," she whispered, finally opening her eyes and locking her gaze with mine. "I, ah... do that again, Edward... do it again."

For a moment, I thought my heart was going to stop beating completely. Instead, it thundered to life beneath my chest, causing my breathing to become quite heavy yet again. As her lips slowly lifted into a smile, I felt my own mouth curve up on one side.

I brushed her silky hair out of her eyes as I repeated the movement, causing both of us to moan in unison.

"Yes," she said almost inaudibly. "Just like that, Edward."

Her legs slid up, hitching around my thighs as we started moving together, slowly and gently at first, but then gradually becoming a little stronger, surer.

I had no idea if I was doing anything right. All I knew was that whatever I was doing felt unbelievably incredible, and Bella didn't seem to be complaining. In fact, she appeared to be enjoying it just as much as I was.

Our mouths came together in another passionate embrace as our chests heaved with our labored breaths, and our bodies heated up considerably from our intimate exertion.

"Edward," she panted. "Can you... can you move faster... or harder... or maybe both?"

I swallowed thickly and complied, groaning long and low as my hips collided over and over and over again with hers, savoring the way her body moved and writhed under mine.

As our souls united and became one, I whispered my love for her, feeling the pressure inside of me building and soaring and climbing higher.

Bella gasped then moaned as her body suddenly stiffened, and I was utterly stunned by the sheer beauty that crossed over her face as she cried out. My name fell reverently from her swollen lips as she trembled beneath me.

The pleasurable sensations were simply too much to take, and I shut my eyes up tight, unable to keep them open any longer, as I felt every single muscle in my body grow completely rigid before finally releasing in wave after wave of ecstasy. I whispered her name as I clutched her body to mine, never wanting to let go. Ever.

We both panted for air, and I attempted to roll of off her as I realized that I was likely crushing her tiny frame. However, she tightened her arms around me and sighed.

"Just stay... stay like this for a little while longer," she murmured, grinning widely.

I exhaled and relaxed, trying to get my breathing back under control as I pressed my forehead against hers. "Bella, that was unbelievable."

She hummed in agreement and brushed my damp locks out of my eyes. I propped myself up on my elbows and leaned my face toward hers, capturing her lips with mine.

After a few moments, I rolled off of her but immediately pulled her body against me. She snuggled as closely as possible, our legs tangling together, and placed her head on top of my chest, right above my heart.

I yanked the covers over us and wrapped my arms securely around her body. "I love you, Bella."

"I love you, too, Edward."

"Forever," I whispered as my eyes closed in sheer exhaustion.

I could hear the smile in her voice as she murmured in response, "I won't settle for anything less."

With an elated grin firmly in place and Bella's bare form draped over mine, sleep claimed me almost instantly.

That night, I dreamed of the two of us lying outside in our meadow... only we were not alone.

Curled up with us among the dandelions and violets, listening with wonder as my lovely wife read a story aloud about daring adventures and far-off places, was a little girl with mahogany hair and emerald eyes.

Suddenly, everything vanished as I heard what sounded like a door swinging open, followed by a horrified gasp. "ISABELLA MARIE SWAN!!"


Author's Note:

Uh oh!

What did you think of their "wedding" and their first time? That was the part I struggled most with in this chapter because I was determined to make it perfect for them.

Before I get weirded out reviews, yes, I do realize that Bella is only 16, while Edward is 18. But, don't forget that this takes place in quite a different time than the one we live in, and this Edward & Bella are obviously not like those around them as it is. Plus, it's just fiction. Sheesh. :)

For you historians out there, I tried researching this time period, but there's only so much googling you can do before you just want to rip out your eyeballs. So, if they didn't use particular words back then or if certain facts aren't all that true, then I apologize. I tried. Really, I did. I spent more time on google for this chapter than I'd care to admit.

Thanks for reading, and please leave a review. I'd love to know what you thought.

HAPPY EASTER!! :)